Early struggles

On the night before I boarded a plane with a one-way ticket to Mexico, I was out to eat with my family, and my sister asked me if I was nervous.

“Nope,” I said, stuffing my face with North Carolina barbecue. 

“But — do you have butterflies?” she pressed.

“I actually don’t,” I said.

I was being honest. On the eve of the biggest decision of my life, my greatest adventure, my greatest challenge, I was certain: I was going to kick ass. 

I had no doubts. Traveling like this, on my own with no itinerary, was what I had always wanted to do. It was what I was meant to do.

Two weeks into my nomad existence, I can hardly write those sentences without tearing up. Yep, that’s right. I’m close to crying right now. I’ve been crying a lot.

If you follow me on social media, you might be furrowing your brow at this moment, confused.

But, perhaps you’re thinking, I’ve been watching what you’re doing and it’s awesome. I’ve seen you eating tacos and drinking mezcal and walking beautiful streets and strolling through vibrant markets. You look like you’re having the time of your life.

Well yeah, I agree with most of that. What I’m doing *is* awesome. I’m surrounded by incredible beauty, astounding culture, amazing food. I am doing what I always wanted to do. I should be having the time of my life. When I tell people about what I’m doing, they usually tell me I’m “brave.” I’m “inspiring.” That my decision is “admirable.”

And yet, it’s hard. It’s lonely. It’s sad. I’d be lying if I said the urge to book a one-way flight back to the United States, hasn’t passed, begrudgingly, through my mind.

Those feelings, as intensely as I’ve felt them, have taken me off guard. Firstly, I’ve traveled solo a lot, for more time that I’ve yet been gone for, and I never experienced this particular set of emotions. I’m a person who loves to be alone. I’m a person who gravitates toward personal challenges. I’m a person who lives to explore.

But this journey is different for several reasons: 

  1. My budget is tighter than any I’ve ever attempted to live in. Basic comforts that I once took for granted are now no longer available.
  2. I feel immense pressure because my income is now tied to my travels, because so many people are supporting me, emotionally and financially (through Patreon and a sponsorship) based on this journey, and because they expect me to be inspired and inspiring. 
  3. I’m not coming home. Subconsciously, I think my mind believes that my challenges and discomfort don’t have an end date, that my loneliness will only grow.

I’m craving routine and normalcy more desperately than I ever have. I never know where my next laundry will be done, where my next toiletries will be purchased, where my next meal will be eaten. I don’t have a place to make food. I don’t have a normal work space or schedule. I don’t have a PLAN. My life, everything I know, has been flipped upside down.

I feel like an untethered astronaut, hurling through space, uncontrolled.

And experiencing all of this, this way, has left me feeling ashamed. 

So much of what I’ve done and seen should be my lasting impressions of this journey so far, not the pit I feel when I wake up and when I go to bed. Mexico City and Oaxaca (I promise I will record more about both cities, soon) are beautiful. They’re exhilarating. They’re inspiring. 

And I’m still struggling. A lot.

The girl who sat at a barbecue restaurant in North Carolina two weeks ago, shunning the idea of butterflies, wouldn’t believe it. But then, I already know so much more than her. 

I’m holding tight to the idea that each day will get better, that as I discover ways to insert structure into an unstructured existence, that my anxiety will diminish, that somewhere along the way, I will indeed kick ass. 

Until then, I’ll try to appreciate these feelings, too. 

Though the emotions have been more extreme than I anticipated, this trip was meant to be as much about the struggles as the victories. 

So I’ll lean in. I’ll breathe. I’ll put one foot in front of the other. The days will pass, and I hope, this feeling will too. 

16 thoughts on “Early struggles

  1. Aww … that’s so hard! But not unexpected. Hang in there. Remember, you can always come home, even though you most likely won’t.

  2. I admire your honesty! You inspire me with your blog and social media posts. I have told my friends about you and what you are doing. In a way we all want to be you! Most of my friends have said they would love to do what you are doing. In a way we are living out our dreams through you. Ha! Things will get better. It’s a big adjustment. You are an amazing person and writer. Praying for you!

  3. You got this Amelia! A couple of quotes for inspiration and perspective. “When nothing is sure, everything is possible.” And “The darkest nights always produce the brightest stars.” This is the adventure of your life. What stories you’ll have to tell, so embrace it all! Stay safe.

  4. Going from answering my insane questions about Gopher b-ball to this adventure is crazy. Very jealous of your excursion, enjoy it. Hopefully you find some good scotch and Bigfoot.

    P.S. If the gophers played their home games in Mexico City’s altitude how would Coach Pitino adjust his game plan?

      1. I think you’re getting to know yourself. Wasn’t that the purpose of the trip? Also, you’re de-compressing from Minnesota smugness, the fantasy world where everything is wonderful in the best of all possible worlds.

  5. Amelia – Your journey includes the desire to share gratitude around the world. The emotions you have, the fear, the unknowing… all of this is what you were looking for. Build and learn from these feelings. These experiences are making you an even better person than you are today. The gratitude you can share now is FAR more meaningful to you and those you share it with having experienced the reality that sometimes life is very uncomfortable. I applaud and adore your desire to build a better YOU… embrace, feel and learn from everything coming your way. I’ve never met you, but hope the VERY best for you!

  6. While I might be one who would call you brave I would also call you foolish or delusional if something about this wasn’t at least a bit terrifying! Sometimes all we can do to get from one day to the next is keep moving and don’t dwell on that which scares us. And don’t feel pressure because of your supporters. Can’t speak for them all but I can say you’ll be supported no matter what you write or how often you post. The support comes with no strings!

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